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Last Updated on August 19, 2020 by Matt
When it comes to backup power solutions, one of the most common questions I hear is “can a solar generator power a house?”
Most single solar generator kits cannot power an entire home, but multiple solar generators or a custom DIY setup can help get the job done.
Most larger solar generators have the capacity to keep refrigerators, fans, and heaters running, but powering larger appliances such as an air conditioning system or water heater will require multiple generators or a large, custom-built solar generator.
Table of Contents
- How Much Power You Really Need
- How to Connect a Solar Generator to Your Home
- Choosing Solar Panel Size
- What Type of Batteries Should You Use?
- About the Inverter
- Solar Generator Inverter Suggestions
How Much Power You Really Need
Before you go out and start looking at solar generators, solar panels, and batteries to build your own solar generator, you must first account for how much power you will need from a generator.
This is going to vary from application to application as people with larger homes will have more items they need to charge up.
To get started, figure out which appliances you will want you solar generator to power and for how long. Once you have this list, you will need to research the amount of energy they are going to consume. You can do this by looking through your owner’s manual or simply giving the manufacturer a call.
Once you have this information, you can start looking for solar generators that will supply enough energy to power your appliances with a little extra wiggle room.
You will want this additional power so you do not constantly run your solar generator at maximum capacity. This will cause the solar generator to wear quicker and can significantly reduce the life of your generator.
Small Solar Generators (10-250W)
Great for charging up small electronics such as cell phones, laptops, and small TVs to help you stay connected. These generators are often very lightweight and can be carried with you just about anywhere.
The Goal Zero 150W Solar Kit is a plug and play solution that includes everything you need to power your smaller household appliances, charge your phone, and things that don’t require a lot of power. For a whole house, you will be very limited in what you can use.
- Material: [Yeti 150] AGM lead-acid battery, [Nomad 14] monocrystalline
- Solar Panel Capacity: 14W (18-22V)
- Solar Panel Output: 14-22V, up to 1A (14W max)
- Battery Type: AGM lead-acid
- Battery Capacity: 150Wh, 14Ah (12V)
Medium Solar Generators (250-1,000W)
For those who want more electricity over a longer period of time, or just need to power something with higher wattage, a solar generator in the 250-1,000 watt range is a great option.
These generators are usually easily transported by a single person or carried in tandem.
The ECO Worthy 600W Solar Generator Kit (click to read reviews on Amazon) is a 5-piece kit with everything you need to generate 600W.
With this one, you can power more things and be completely off grid. Ideal for a small cabin or a whole house with low electric consumption.
- Combiner box 12/24V system automatic detectable, wrong battery pole connection protection, lightning protection
- Easy installation with pre-drilled hole. By-pass diode minimized the impact of shade
- Panel dimensions:996*665*35mm(39.2″x26.2″x1.4″）
- Newest solar panel with 90% within 10 years and 80% within 25 years
- Max Daily Output up to 3.2KWH in ideal situation, ideal for RV/Shed/Home use
Large Solar Generators (1,000-10,000W)
Larger solar generators are going to be ideal for powering homes on a larger scale as they can usually power larger appliances for extended periods of time.
There are many residential and commercial options available in this power range.
With the ECO LLC 1800W Home Grid (click to read reviews on Amazon), we enter into real off-grid power solutions.
This solar generator kit will be able to completely power a simple house, or at least significantly reduce your electric bills.
- Power generation plan: 1.8 kW solar power generates average 7kWh of electricity per day for home
- Flexible use of electricity: on cloudy days, when the power supply is insufficient, automatically obtains power from your state grid system
- Solar panel: corrosion-resistant aluminum frame allows the panels to be used for decades, as well as withstanding high winds (2,400Pa) and snow loads (5,400Pa) outdoors
- Max Daily Output up to 3.2KWH in ideal situation, ideal for RV/Shed/Home use
Ready-Made Solar Kits
The best solar generators that you can purchase as ready-made units allow you to get an all-in-one generator that requires no assembly.
These generators are often offered with multiple charging methods: solar, wall outlet, or car outlet.
They can be purchased with or without solar panels to give you the choice of running different panels, and they are a great way to dip your feet into solar electricity.
The best thing about this type of generators is that they are very user-friendly.
You can simply charge them up and have them ready to go the next time you need them. When you are ready to use them, simply plug your device into one of the many different outlets on the generator to get charging.
Most generators are going to offer various outlets to allow you the freedom of plugging just about any device you can imagine into them.
Ready-made solar generators are often more expensive than building your own solar generator as the hard work is already done. However, if your time is more important to you and you don’t mind manually charging or plugging in devices, they are a great tool to have.
DIY Solar Generators
If you are more of the DIY type or simply want to build a permanent solar solution for your home’s electricity, this is going to be the way to go.
DIY solar generators require you to do more research on the type of solar panels you will need, what kind of wiring is required, how many batteries you will want, and how you can integrate it into your home’s electricity.
How to Connect a Solar Generator to Your Home
When it comes to connecting your solar generator to your home, you have a couple of options that will depend on which style of solar generator you choose.
You can build your own solar generator that can connect to your home’s electricity or purchase a ready-made solar generator that you can plug appliances into manually.
Let’s take a look at ways to connect your home using each method.
First, you must install solar panels on your roof.
This can be done by a professional, or by yourself with a DIY kit.
Secondly, decide whether you’re using solar electricity for backup energy or as a home electricity replacement.
This will determine whether you will need batteries or not. If you are using your solar electricity for backup only, no batteries will be needed.
Next, install a power inverter to convert the solar energy into usable home electricity. You will need to connect the solar panels to the power inverter and then into the home grid.
For use with batteries, connect the inverter to the battery and then to the home grid.
After that, install the wiring from the battery to your circuit breaker and electrical shunt. Transport DC current to your inverter.
The purpose of the shunt and breaker is to prevent overload on the system.
Connect the inverter to the AC fuse box in the home. Connect the AC generator to the inverter so you can switch back to regular power if you deplete your solar power.
This is important if you have weeks of reduced sunshine.
Choosing Solar Panel Size
When it comes to buying solar panels for your solar generator, the size and quantity are going to depend on how many appliances you will be charging and what their overall wattage demand is.
You will also need to take into consideration panel location as larger panels may not fit on some roofs.
Solar panels come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the application and the manufacturer.
Once you find out how much wattage you will need, you can look for the correct size for your needs.
Some larger solar panels may supply you with enough wattage to power your appliances, but most of the time, you are going to need multiple solar panels of lower outputs to achieve the necessary power.
I suggest looking at various sizes and their output of energy to determine which sizes work best for you.
The location of where your solar panels will be placed will also be a determining factor of what size solar panels you need. For example, if you want to install your solar panels on your house, you will need to measure the size of your roof and figure out what the best configuration of solar panels would be for your application.
For those using ready-made solar generators, follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for preferred solar panel size.
This will give you a few options that are compatible with your specific kit.
Solar Panel Suggestion
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel
- Maximum Power: 100W
- Maximum System Voltage: 600V DC (UL)
- Optimum Operating Voltage (Vmp): 18.9V
- Open-Circuit Voltage (Voc): 22.5V
- Optimum Operating Current (Imp): 5.29A
- Short-Circuit Current (Isc): 5.75A
- Weight: 16.5lbs
- Dimensions: 47.3 X 21.3 X 1.4 In
- Adjustable, Corrosion-Resistant aluminum stand as well as a heavy duty handle and latches for longevity. Folded size: 19. 9 x 27. 2 x 2. 8 inches. Ideal output: 500 Watt hours per day (depends on sunlight availability)
What Type of Batteries Should You Use?
When it comes to solar generators, you are going to need a place to store your energy.
This is where the batteries come in. Batteries can store your solar energy to be used whenever you need it. Depending on your application, you may need more or less batteries to satisfy your wattage demands.
It is important to calculate how much battery storage you will need as you do not want too many or not enough. Having too many batteries will cost you unnecessary money while not enough batteries will cause quicker solar energy drains.
To figure out what type of batteries you need and what size you need, calculate your wattage usage.
This is easily done by figuring out which appliances will be powered by the solar generator and adding up their wattage demands.
Once you have this number, you can find high-quality batteries that will store enough energy for your needs.
Flooded Lead Acid
Flooded lead acid batteries are going to be your most budget-friendly option.
They are relatively cheap and last for about 5-7 years. You will have to maintain these batteries as they require you to add distilled water to equalize the charge on a monthly basis.
Also, these batteries will require the enclosure to be vented outside to expel any built up hydrogen gases.
Sealed Lead Acid
The next step up in price and quality is going to be sealed lead acid batteries.
These batteries are going to run a little more than your flooded lead acid batteries but you get more features.
The lifespan is a little shorter, falling in the 3-5 year range, but you will not have to worry about maintenance.
You should vent these enclosures as gases can be emitted in certain conditions.
If you want the best of the best battery for your solar generator, I suggest investing in lithium batteries.
Lithium batteries are the standard in high performance batteries across many industries and make for a great addition to any solar generator.
While they are the most expensive option, they are also the most efficient and fastest charging of the three.
About the Inverter
To convert your solar energy to usable electricity, you are going to need a good inverter.
An inverter is a piece of equipment that you can wire on or off the grid, depending on your specific setup.
On Grid Inverters
On grid inverters are used when there is grid power available. This is going to be for use on systems where you are supplementing your current electricity.
On grid inverters concert direct current (DC) to usable alternating current (AC) to be put into your electrical power grid.
Off Grid Inverters
Off grid inverters are used as power backups when your electrical power is interrupted.
This is going to be for systems you are using as an electrical replacement in the event of power outages and black outs.
Solar Generator Inverter Suggestions
When choosing the right inverter for your solar generator, you will need to determine which is best for the size of your solar array, or solar panel setup.
Your inverter will be converting all of the DC power supplied to it, so the inverter must be able to handle as much energy as your solar panels can supply.
In general, your inverter should be the same size as the DC rating of your solar panel setup. For example, if you have a 6 kilowatt system, you are going to want at least a 6,000 watt inverter.
Of course, this is a general suggestion and your application may vary.
Fronius Galvo 3.1-1
The Fronius Galvo 3.1-1 (click to read reviews on Amazon) is a single-phase grid tied that is popular for those who are trying to supply power to their existing electrical grid.
It is built to supply up to 3,100 watts continuously, which will greatly help lower your dependency on your electrical company and provide you with lower electrical bills.
- Peak Efficiency: 96.00%
- CEC Efficiency: 95.50%
- Recommended PV Input (STC): 4500 Watts
- Maximum DC Input Voltage: 550.00 Volts
- Maximum DC Input Current: 20.00 Amps
- Min MPPT Voltage: 165.00 Volts
- Max MPPT Voltage: 550.00 Volts
- Number of MPPT’s: 1
- AC Voltages: 208 Volts, 240 Volts
- AC Frequencies: 60Hertz
- Continuous AC Power Output: 3,100 Watts
- Min Operating Voltage: 165.00 Volts
- Max Operating Voltage: 550.00 Volt
- Positive Input Channels: 3
- Negative Input Channels: 3
SMA Solar Sunny Boy 5.0-US
For those looking for a house backup power solution, the SMA Solar Sunny Boy 5.0-US makes switching to solar power during a blackout much easier.
The industry leading services that SMA provides with their Solar Sunny Boy allow you to have peace of mind when your power goes out. Their team of professional installers will get your generator installed quickly and easily, or you can order it and install in yourself.
- Max. Usable DC Power: 5150 W
- Max. DC Voltage: 600
- VRated MPP Voltage Range: 220 – 480
- VMPPT Operating Voltage Range: 100 – 550
- VMin. DC Voltage / Start Voltage: 100 V / 125
- VMax. Operating Input Current Per MPPT: 10 A
- Max. Short Circuit Current Per MPPT: 18 A
- Number Of MPPT Tracker / String Per MPPT Tracker: 3/1
- The new Sunny Boy’s two-part enclosure concept that separates the connection unit from the power unit, which allows for simple, expedited servicing.
So now that I have walked you through everything you need to know about using solar generators to power a house, you should be able to figure out exactly what you need to build or buy your own kit.
If your do not feel comfortable with wiring up your own kit, call a professional electrician or solar generator installer.
Have you installed a solar generator? Did you buy or build your own kit? What suggestions would you give for first time builders?
Scott Krager purchased generatorgrid.com in the summer of 2020 and quickly began to buy every generator under the sun! He currently has over a dozen generators and the number is growing quickly. He lives in Portland, OR near his family and friends.
Last update on 2021-06-05 Affiliate links & images from Amazon Product Advertising API